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Outside of the obvious like endometriosis or fibroids (which is a whole other topic that YES food can be still related), I want to talk about THREE other reasons that painful periods may be happening for ya!
Certain nutrients, like magnesium, are needed for optimal muscle contraction. Vitamin D deficiency also has been linked to period cycle issues. Optimizing vitamin E levels has been studied for painful periods – this is a fat-soluble vitamin, so working with a practitioner for the right dosage for you is important!
We do micronutrient deficiency testing in our practice to figure this out too! And we’re looking in the white blood cell, which is a more efficient and effective way at looking at your nutrient stores versus in the serum.
Never underestimate proper nutrient levels!
Estrogen is freakin’ awesome. We need it – it’s important for our health, but when we have too much or we don’t have enough progesterone (so the ratio between estrogen and progesterone isn’t optimal), we can feel that estrogen dominance. Painful periods are one of the symptoms of estrogen dominance.
Diet is important with estrogen (and progesterone) as it’s the foundation of making hormones + it influences the metabolism of estrogen. Those good ol’ cruciferous vegetables slay the game at making sure our body is choosing the protective pathway of estrogen versus the more DNA damaging one.
DUTCH hormone testing is what we do and it’s a way to be able to see how we can support you best with diet, along with lifestyle because not only does it test the estrogen and progesterone, but it also tests adrenals. Cortisol levels are really important for seeing how we’re handling our stress and from there, we can support you with lifestyle recommendations to make sure adrenals are moving towards that optimal range!
You might have heard me talk about omega-6 being a more pro-inflammatory fatty acid. It’s fancy name is called arachidonic acid. This type of fatty acid can create the production of something called prostaglandins. Prostaglandins play a role in the body by way of inflammation, inhibit platelet aggregation, helps the smooth muscle contract, and the way it’s related to periods is that it helps shed our lining every month! Hello, blood! If our body has more prostaglandins, this can contribute to those painful periods.
Diet is big importance here because we want to 1) eat foods that aren’t producing inflammation in our body and this is SUPER bio-individual, hence why we do food sensitivity testing and 2) get healthier fats in that produce a better fatty acid ratio. Our western diet is LOADED with omega-6 fatty acids. And don’t get me wrong, we need all the omegas, but it really does come down to balance.
P.S. You know you have extra prostaglandins when you have diarrhea before a cycle! Where is the poop emoji when I need it?!
If this is something you’re struggling with, I urge you to not stop looking for the root. I plead and beg that getting your foundation (diet, lifestyle, exercise, stress, sleep) is the most important thing we can do for our body before electing to do extremes. You are not alone! Many women are going through this + many women are underestimating what diet and lifestyle can do, Painful periods are not normal. If you haven’t tried working with a dietitian/nutritionist, our team is ready!
Your healthcare team should have an array of different practitioners, so that you are best supported with a holistic whole-body approach!